Children and teens with spina bifida face a variety of medical, cognitive, and psychosocial challenges as they advance through school. How severe these challenges are depend on the type of lesion the child has and how the lesion affects the anatomy of their brain and cognitive structures. Learning disabilities are most commonly seen in children who also have an Arnold-Chiari malformation and hydrocephalus.
Many of these children experience difficulty in the following areas:
- Auditory processing
- Distractibility and inattentiveness
- Language usage (inappropriate language)
- Math, especially math reasoning
- Sensory integration
- Visual perception
Many children with spina bifida have educational handicaps that require special education programs. In fact, even though children with spina bifida often performance within the normal range of intelligence, most exhibit major learning problems that affect their academic achievement.
These learning problems may be because of physical and neurological complications, as well as prolonged and/or multiple hospitalizations. Children with chronic illnesses have fewer opportunities to develop adequate perception and sensory integration. Other right-hemisphere learning disorders may include:
- Attention deficit disorder without hyperactivity (daydreaming, disorganization, problems with direction and time)
- Dysgraphia (handwriting disorder)
- Hyperlexia (verbal IQ higher than performance IQ)
- Hyperverbal behavior
- Spelling disorders
- Social-emotional learning disabilities
For more information about learning disabilities for children and teens with spina bifida, please contact us.
- The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition website has great information on IEP and transition planning, all you need to know about Career guidance and exploration, and much more!
- The Pediatric Urology Department at CHaD has information about bowel management for toddler and preschoolers with spina bifida, and urological care of children with spina bifida.